Many people dream of being a multi-millionaire. They love the free market economy, as it gives them the opportunity to pursue their dream. Let us stop chasing this dream for a while and reflect on what this issue is all about.
At any time, there is a limited number of assets in the world. These assets have to be shared by the people. If some people are multi-millionaires, other people have to be poorer to allow the rich to own more of the limited assets. This leads to income and wealth inequality.
It is possible for the world to produce more assets to be owned by more people. However, the over-production has lead to a depletion of the natural resources, damaging the environment and leaving less resources behind for the future generation. Is this what we really want? Do we really want to work hard to accumulate more assets than is really necessary? What about spending more time for family and friends?
Many people do not have the choice. They have to work hard to keep a job. Other people gets unemployed, so they have to offer their labor at lower rates to compete for the same jobs. This allows the business owners to make more profit and be richer.
This is what has been happening during the past two decades with global competition and the free market. It has lead to wide disparity of income and poorer living conditions for many people, while a few becomes super rich.
My observation is not new. It has happened in history. I am bringing the great philosophers of earlier times, such as Confucius and Karl Marx. Spend time to read about their teachings.
These philosophers tell us that there is an alternative system to the free market and competitive business environment. Do not be misled that the free market environment, that we are used to in recent years, is the only way or the best way to prosperity and a happier life.
Tan Kin Lian
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